Isaiah 32:17-19 NKJV – In His rest

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.

The Holy Spirit brings a sense of well-being, contentment and wholeness to believers whatever their outward circumstances. Peace is therefore an indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence. What an incredible promise and thought. Especially in the times in which we live. It seems that there is torment and turmoil on every corner.

We find that the Holy Spirit brings peace of mind to those facing difficult decisions. “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:19 NKJV) My wife and I have been in a season of challenge and some might say, “a season of struggle”. There have been times over the last several months where our faith has been fully tested. Our trust was challenged it seemed almost every day.

But one of the things we found as God walked with us during this time was God’s amazing desire to gather us up. God brought us out of the situation as we called upon His name and brought us to a spiritual rest where the peace of God truly surpassed all understanding. It continues to be in those quiet times when all that is left is God, do we find our greatest strength and joy. This rest is promised to all who place their trust in God. Spiritual rest is found only in God. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

This is God-given assurance. It’s a promise to all of us. This assurance produces spiritual maturity and stability, so that believers may withstand the adverse conditions of life. Friend, we will stumble and sometimes forget the powerful assurance that God gives to us through the promises of His Word. We are human. But we have hope. Hope in the One who defeated all temptation, all struggle, all circumstances, and all sin. The Resurrection power of Jesus Christ conquers all that we face. When grounded in God, hope provides the motivation to live the Christian life even in the face of trouble and un-rest.

Heavenly Father, thank You that we can place our trust and faith in You and Your Word. God, we live in a world tossed around by turmoil and un-rest. But Praise God that we don’t have to fear because through You and Your loving care we have hope. We come to You Lord with our cares and struggles and place them before Your throne. We lift up our praises to You and thank You for delivering us. Holy Spirit come and encourage us as we walk together to fulfill Your plan. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Don’t’ believe me, believe God!

Psalm 71:14 NIV – I will praise You, Lord!

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

I can look back at my past and see how God has saved me, and I rejoice. God has done so many wonderful things for me that the list seems endless. His love has changed me. His protection has served as a fortress for me. His hand has strengthened me. His mercy and grace has forgiven me. His Word has taught me. And His Son, Jesus has saved me. All of this has given me hope which is grounded in God’s goodness and inescapable care even in the face of trouble.

Our hope can be placed in God in the face of difficulty or trial. The Bible tells us, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10 NIV). His care for us here on earth is never complete. God will deliver us again and again; as much as we need. His care, just like His love for us, is everlasting.

God alone is good and He demonstrates His goodness. “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68 NIV) We have this assurance that God works for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

We are encouraged by God’s loving care and faithful promises. God’s strength empowers us to live faithfully. God is the source of all victory, which He grants to those who obey His commands and put their trust and confidence in Him. In the past, I put my faith and trust in myself and the world and that got me nothing but heartache, trouble, and confusion. My faith now is grounded in trusting God for all things, including my life and He has given me in return eternal hope through His Son, Jesus and His death on the cross. God is King of everything and I want my life to praise Him.

Friend, where do place your hope? Do you place it in what the world can provide you? Or do you place your hope in God who is completely faithful. Where is your praise directed? This week spend some time in quiet prayer with God. Ask Him to open up your heart to hear the answers to these questions. And then, ask God to be your everything; your All in All.

Dear Lord, You are my everything. In You I place my hope. You are my deliverer, my healer, my protection, and my strength. Your care for me is like Your love for me; it’s everlasting. Continue to teach me to trust You in all things and to look upon You when I face trouble. Forgive me, Lord, when I trust in the world to give me victory. The source of all victory comes from You, Lord. I give You praise. In Jesus Name, AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV – Cast all our cares upon You

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

A dear friend of mine from Florida, Bob, posted this prayer one day and it caused me to stop what I was doing, read it again, and pray. Thanks Bob!

Prayer of the day: Father God. Thank you for your reminders that we need never carry things alone. That many times, the burden we carry is not ours at all. Thank you that you have reassured us over and over that you care for each of your children and will never let even one of them go. Amen

I needed this reminder that the Lord is with me at every moment, at every step. God never leaves me alone. And He is able to carry the load of my life if I allow Him to do so. When I think about what constitutes the “load of my life”, it’s consists of my work, being able to get by in this world, the worries I have that my children are fine, being able to support my wife as a husband should, just being able to keep a smile on my face living in this world today. Some of you might say, “Now wait a minute! Aren’t you supposed to get through all this? You’re a Christian! Your faith should sustain you.”

Like I said before, “I needed this reminder.” My faith in the Lord does sustain me. I live in the knowledge of who God is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Yet, there are times we all fall into the snare of the enemy and discouragement and worry takes over. Today’s post is about releasing our worry to God.

When we release our worry to God, He is there to take care of it and take it away; replacing it with His peace.   It’s all about letting go. God’s desire is for all of us to walk with Him in total confidence of His saving grace and His love for us. But sometimes we get in the way of that. It’s like saying to God, “Lord, I just have a few things I need to take care of. I’ll catch up to you in just a minute or so.” That’s pride. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 NKJV) Our union with Jesus Christ is the basis for our encouragement. It brings into our lives all of the benefits of being a child of God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

The Message paraphrase says this in Proverbs 29:23, “Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.” The recipe for releasing worry and the pride that sometimes goes along with it, is PRAYER. It seems to always be about PRAYER. Maybe that’s why God reminds us to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)

Lord, thank You for Your reminders that You love us and care for us and that You desire that we need not to carry our burdens alone. You are with us always; even to the end of the age. Help us to remember to pray and to allow You to move in our lives so that we can walk with You in freedom and humility. You are our God and we are Your children. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 8:32 NKJV – Knowing the truth

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

When I was a little boy, one of the things that my dad always demonstrated was that his word meant everything to him. He spoke the truth and being truthful was a part of his character. When dad went to be with the Lord, I was asked by someone what I remember most about my dad. I responded by saying, “He was a man of integrity. He spoke the truth.”

I learned a lot about truth from dad. Telling the truth always was the best course of action. Even if, by telling the truth, you had to pay some price. As a boy, I paid the price a time or two. Well, more than two. Dad led by integrity and respect. Mom led by the “yardstick”. Come to think of it, we had LOTS of yardsticks at home. You know, the one’s you could get at the hardware store. I called it a 36 inch ruler. Mom was the disciplinarian and called it her attitude adjuster.

Learning that truth is important helped me quite a bit growing up. But then, something happened. I began to see that truth wasn’t as important as I was taught. I saw in the world around me that truth could be manipulated and somehow work to your advantage. You might be able to defer or postpone paying the price. I saw it on TV.   I saw it in government. I saw it in business. I saw it in people. It affected me. I, too, would learn, to manipulate truth. Am I proud of that statement? Not at all. But I’m being truthful.

I found that I could hide pretty much anything I wanted from those around me. I learned to play the game, to be an actor and people believed me. Not cool. Thinking back at those times I didn’t even remember what dad worked so hard at trying to get me to understand. Being a man of integrity was everything.

Those times in my life are not something that I rejoice in. I remember those times as a way of understanding of how much God has done in my life. I have hurt a lot of people along the way with selfishness, self-pride, and deceit. And I have asked and received God’s forgiveness for those sins. I also have returned to those I have hurt and sought their forgiveness.

When I called upon the Name of Jesus and asked Him to come into my heart and be my Savior, I was set free. Free from sin and guilt and shame for my past sins. I was brought into His way, His truth, and His life. And I have learned that truth is everything. That truth sets you free. I don’t manipulate it any longer. I promote it in the things I do. I am not perfect and sometimes I still fail. But instead of accepting being less than truthful, I seek the Truth again and He forgives me. When I pray, I lay it all down before Jesus. I speak the truth that is on my heart. In prayer, we need to not try to hide anything. There’s no sense in that. God knows all things. But He also waits for us to speak to Him in truth. When I spend time with the Lord, I want nothing to stand between us. I want nothing to hinder our relationship.

My past is painful to look back on. I was pretty messed up. But now I’m free. The chains and the shackles are broken. Being a man of integrity means a lot to me. Being a man of God is everything to me.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for the Truth. Your truth. The truth of Your Word which has set me free. Continue Your work in my life so that I can demonstrate the Truth of Jesus Christ to everyone I encounter. Guard me and protect me from the lack of truth in this world. May all I say and do give glory to Your Name. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 89:9 NKJV – The storms of life

You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them.

Isn’t life just like a raging sea? When it gets really tough and there seems to be no end to the storm, there comes another wave to toss you around a bit. I remember times when out fishing; the storm tossed us around a bit.

Back many years ago, I was out on a fishing trip with my brother. The lake we were on was not a part of the “Great Lakes”, but it was big enough to cause some pretty big waves when the wind came out of the North. Well on this particular fishing trip the waves were big. I remember just wanting to get to shore. We were being tossed around in his 10 foot aluminum boat. The little motor working as hard as it was designed to do. We kept pushing forward but with each wave it seemed that we weren’t getting any closer. We were frightened that the boat would begin to take on water. We were prepared as we had on life preservers and knew how to swim, but still were afraid. Well, our fears were realized when the waves began to wash over the stern of the boat and we had water coming in faster than I could bail it out. Praise the Lord we got to shore.

I can tell you that back then, I didn’t pray. I hadn’t come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and prayer wasn’t part of my life. But the raging sea still existed. Like I said, life is a raging sea. I’ve not had another storm experience like that in a boat, but I’ve been in storms. The storms of life include grief, disappointment, heartache, anger, fear, stress, and just trying to get by. With each storm, it seems the more I pressed on, the more the storm increases. Two steps forward, and one step back. Yup, I’ve been there. We all have. But I now have a saving relationship with Jesus and things are different. My ability to survive the storms is different. I have a better life preserver. “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” (Psalm 16:1 NKJV) It’s not a floatation device, it’s so much more.

Each morning that we wake up, God has given us another day. Another day to breathe and live life. But with each new day comes new challenges. Some of those challenges might be only small ripples in the water. Not really a storm. No need to worry. But other challenges may cause us to be tossed around. Where is our faith then? Where are our prayers then? I try to remember this. With everything we face, in every situation, God is there. He remains. He doesn’t leave. He’s as close as a whisper. He hears us when we pray, “Lord, help me!” I am absolutely sure that even way back then when my brother and I were in that storm, God was with us. He was watching over us. His eyes were fixed upon us. That is the character of God. That is His nature. He loves us.

Friend, God desires for us to have a way to get through and beyond the storms of life. He proved that when He sent His Son, Jesus to the earth to seek and save the lost. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV) Jesus is more than just a captain of a boat in danger. He’s our ever loving God who can speak to the wind and the waves and say, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV) This is where we must place our faith. God will be your guide through every storm and He will walk with you. He knows the way to safety. He knows where the shore is. Let’s pray to Him and trust Him for that.

Great and glorious Lord. I am so glad that in You I can place my trust. That in You, I can know that You see all of my storms. Help me to call upon Your Name when I am in trouble. Lead me to safe passage and refuge in You. Forgive me when I try to get through the storms alone. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 16:8 NKJV – Where does your hope lie?

“I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”

I have heard it spoken that people place their hope in a lot of different things. Hope for a “Better Economy”. Hope in “New Leadership”. Hope in a “New Tomorrow”. “There’s a bright spot on the horizon”. “There’s a new day coming”. Some of you may have heard these sayings and maybe have a few more of your own. I was even taught growing up that if you work hard and live a good life, you’ll succeed. And the most ridiculous hope, “The Browns will win the Super Bowl”. OK. Just joking with you a little.

What I’ve come to learn and know is that most of this is wishful thinking. It sounds good, but when it comes right down to it, we fail to fully experience the results of such hope. Life is hard. That’s right. But life is harder when you feel you have no hope. I think of the many people of the world whose hope has been shattered by disaster; floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, famine, and persecution are all over the world. Right here in our own country there are millions of people just trying to live from day to day. There are children who would love to have something to eat and know where they will sleep. So where does our hope lie to continue on with life?

Have I shared with you that at one time I was ready to move into my car to live. Yup. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was ready to call my Buick, “Home”. And I had it a lot better than others. In a nearby neighborhood, not far from where I live there are folks (men, women and children) living under bridge overpasses and that’s what they call, “Home”. But even when I struggled to get by, even when I thought there was little hope, God was looking at my situation. His plan was for me to realize where true hope exists.

My hope now lies in Jesus Christ. And I know it was a result of people praying for me. They were praying that I would come to know the hope and love that is in Jesus. You see, this Psalm was written to declare victory and the hope of the faithful. In Jesus Christ we have victory. It is not wishful thinking. It’s a promise. A promise that is kept. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25 NKJV) I have set the Lord before me as my hope. And I declare that I will not be moved.

My friend, my prayer today is for you and all of those living on shallow promises and wishful thinking. My prayer is that your hope would turn to the One who gives hope. Your hope would manifest itself to you in the person of Jesus Christ. I will be praying for you.

The Psalmist ends this Scripture in a very dramatic way. I share it with you below.

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Dear Lord, thank You for the hope You give. I declare that I will set You and the hope within You before anything of this world and I will not be moved. Your hand will protect me. Your hand will direct me. Your hand will deliver me. Your hand will heal me. Your hand will restore me. Your hand will strengthen me. Your hand will hold me up. And Your blood will save me. Thank You Lord for the promises of Your Word. Help me to not rely on the empty and shallow hope of this world, but to submit my life into Your great and mighty hands. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Proverbs 12:25 NKJV – Breaking the chain of anxiety

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Anxiety is a crippling emotion. It grips a person and causes lots of other problems; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Doctors say it can cause many ailments and diseases in people. Some people feel trapped, alone, and by themselves as a result of anxiety. I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to sound here that I have this emotion all figured out. I don’t. I still deal with this emotion from time to time. Some of you reading this know all about anxiety and what it can do. My prayers are with you.

But what I’m talking about here is what God thinks about anxiety and how He instructs us about this emotion. There is such a thing as a “ministry of encouragement”. The ministry of encouragement is more than a superficial word. It’s a spoken word that is an important aspect of caring for one another. In the book of James it says, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16 NKJV) We see anxiety all around us. We see it in our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, and even feel it ourselves. The bible tells us clearly how Jesus dealt with those He saw. It says that, “He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34 NKJV) The multitude were those who Jesus walked with, talked with, and ministered to. An encouraging word is a compassionate word. It is given to uplift someone above what they are facing. It is directed to move their mind from where they are to another place. A place of peace and a place of love.

The first part of Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine”. The second part says, “but a broken spirit dries the bones.” I desire more of the first part then the latter. But the latter describes exactly what anxiety does to a person. It dries you up to where there is no life giving flow any more. Overcoming this emotion is very important to God. He desires for us to be free; to have the chains broken of anxiety that rob our joy. Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV, says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I feel that I’m talking to someone who will read this and understand what I’m talking about. God has called each of us to be an establisher and a builder of His Kingdom. I believe that means to be an encourager. One who is willing to share a kind word, build up someone who is down, and demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ.

Let me share a secret with you. When I am full of anxiety or worry and I set my emotions aside to encourage another person, what I am worried about just seems to wither away. At least for that moment. Encouraging others is a medicine for the heart; both theirs and our own. When we go to God in prayer and make known to Him what causes us worry and receive that peace, and then partner that with bringing encouragement to another person’s life, we are bringing God’s promises to life. What a tremendous formula for freedom.

Great and glorious God, thank You that You care so much for us. That You want the chains of anxiety to be broken for good. That we can call upon You and make our emotions known to You and receive Your peace. Help us to have a revelation moment when the grip of worry and anxiety leave us and may we give You all the honor and praise. Thank You for Your Word Lord and help us live a life of encouragement and compassion for others. May we be more and more like Jesus. In Jesus Name we pray. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!